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Courtney Castelino

Courtney Castelino A native of Montreal, Canada, Courtney loves the theatre, in general, and Broadway, in particular. She saw her first show when she was thirteen years old: a touring production of The Phantom of the Opera that opened her eyes to the world of musical theatre. As a teenager, Courtney took some drama and improv classes and performed in high school productions. She now lives in the Ottawa, Canada, area and enjoys going to New York and Toronto to see shows whenever she can.



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Interview: Nikhil Saboo and Pablo David Laucerica of DEAR EVAN HANSEN at Ottawa's National Arts Centre
August 4, 2022

Nikhil and Pablo shared some insightful thoughts on their characters and reflections on the show’s key themes

Review: HAMILTON at Ottawa's National Arts Centre
July 14, 2022

What did our critic think of HAMILTON at Ottawa's National Arts Centre?

Interview: Neil Haskell of HAMILTON Shares What it's Like Touring Post-Pandemic and Being Part of an Iconic Show
July 6, 2022

After two unexpected postponements driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadway Across Canada is finally bringing Hamilton to Ottawa. Neil Haskell, a Hamilton veteran who is currently portraying King George III in the touring production, was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to give us some insight into being on tour post-pandemic and what it’s like to be part of such an iconic show.

BWW Review: THE SECRETS OF PRIMROSE SQUARE at The Gladstone
May 29, 2022

Claudia Carroll's The Secrets of Primrose Square is the first show at The Gladstone since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered it and every other theatre in the city over two years ago. Her fifteenth novel, Carroll's The Secrets of Primrose Square was first published in 2018 and this marks the debut of the author as a playwright.

BWW Review: HEARTLINES at the Great Canadian Theatre Company
March 27, 2022

Heartlines, presented by TACTICS at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, is based on the true story of two artists living and creating surrealist art together at a time when neither unconventional art nor homosexuality, was widely accepted.

BWW Review: CATS Makes A Triumphant Return to Ottawa at the National Arts Centre
March 15, 2022

Broadway Across Canada's touring production of CATS was abruptly cut short in March 2020 when theatre venues were shut down because of COVID-19. It is now the first to emerge in Broadway Across Canada's 2022 season lineup.

BWW Review: BLISSFUL STATE OF SURRENDER at The Great Canadian Theatre Company
February 27, 2022

Blissful State of Surrender is the first play by Bosnian-Canadian playwright, Sanita Fejzić. Fejzić fled the Bosnian genocide as a child and spent her formative years as a refugee in Europe before settling in Ottawa. Her experiences are reflected in her work and, given what is happening in Ukraine right now, the show feels almost too close for comfort.

BWW Review: DAISY MAKES A WORTHY RETURN TO LIVE THEATRE AT THE GCTC
December 5, 2021

Daisy tells the true story of the controversial ad campaign surrounding Lyndon B. Johnson's presidential run in 1964. The attack ad that was created to support Johnson used fear marketing, playing on people's emotions to convince them that a vote for Johnson's rival, Barry Goldwater, would send America into nuclear war.

BWW Review: Broadway Across Canada's Touring Production of CATS Proves Its Enduring Appeal
March 11, 2020

The touring production of CATS has changed in the more than fifteen years since I first saw it, but all of the elements that make the Andrew Lloyd Webber show a classic remain intact. The set is fairly simple: a junkyard where the cats congregate to celebrate the annual Jellicle Ball, when Old Deuteronomy (Adam Richardson) will choose which cat goes to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn. There are many contenders for the coveted position. We have Jennyanydots (Dani Goldstein), the seemingly lazy Gumbie cat who sleeps all day but works hard all night, demonstrated in a wonderful tap dancing sequence replete with a roaring twenties style flapper outfit. Then, there is the Rum Tum Tugger (McGee Maddox), the narcissistic, spoiled cat with the sexy swagger, who is a favourite of the lady-cats. Grizabella (Donna Vivino), the once glamourous cat, now past her prime and ostracized by the others. Gus, the Theatre Cat (Timothy Gulan), when aided by a toothful of gin, regales the audience with stories of his career on the stage, when he acted alongside theatre greats and once even 'understudied Dick Whittington's cat'. The Magical Mister Mistoffelees (PJ DiGaetano), shows off his impressive tricks and manages to conjure Old Deuteronomy, who was been kidnapped by Macavity (Brayden Newby), the nefarious 'Napoleon of crime'. Okay, so the plot is, perhaps, a little odd and the story may be disjointed. This is only natural, considering that the musical is based on a collection of whimsical poems written by T.S. Elliot for children. I think the reason CATS remains so popular after nearly forty years is because of the level of detail given to each character, from the costumes and make-up to each cat's story as they are introduced one by one, song by song, to the audience. Even the chorus cats have their own personalities. There is truly something for everyone in this show.

BWW Review: Orpheus' ROCK OF AGES Will Have You Rockin' in Your Seats at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
March 8, 2020

Orpheus Musical Theatre's production of Rock of Ages is designed to get you in the rock 'n roll mood from the get-go, starting with the voice-over introduction warning the audience to prepare to have their 'faces melted'. The show has its very own narrator, Lonny (Brennan Richardson), whose energy and charisma is palpable. Lonny introduces the two main characters, Sherrie (Rana Laviolette) and Drew (Connor McMahon) and we are presented with their backstories so we get to know them better. Sherrie, originally from small-town Kansas, has come to L.A. with her heart full of hopes and dreams of making it big as an actress. Drew works as a bar back at the Bourbon Room, a famous watering hole known for its live music scene. Drew, himself, is an aspiring musician and prefers to be known by his stage name, Wolfgang Von Colt. Within moments of her arrival on the Sunset Strip, Sherrie is mugged. Drew sees the incident and invites Sherrie into the Bourbon Room. He manages to sweet-talk the Bourbon Room's owner, Dennis Dupree (Malcolm Scott), into giving Sherrie a waitressing job, even though the Bourbon has recently fallen on tough times (the view Dennis is treated to as Sherrie bends over to pick up a penny may have also been a contributing factor). While romance begins to blossom between Drew and Sherrie, we discover that a foreign property developer, Hertz Klineman (Wayne McNamara) and his son, Franz (Paddy Allen-McCarthy), have bribed L.A.'s mayor (Neil Cachero) in order to demolish the Sunset Strip and make way for a new development. Meanwhile, Dennis and Lonny try to drum up business by arranging for the great Stacee Jaxx (D.J. Eyamie) to have his final performance with Arsenal at the Bourbon Room, where the band got its start. After sparks sputter out between Sherrie and Drew, Sherrie and Stacee have a quickie in the men's washroom and Drew quits his job to take an offer he can't refuse. Sherrie ends up getting fired and goes to work at the Venus Club, owned by Justice 'Call me Mama' Charlier (Jerusha Lewis). Regina Koontz (Christa Cullain), the mayor's former assistant and now chief protester of the development project, tries to appeal to Franz' sensitive nature to circumvent the demolition. Lonny and Dennis come to a revelation. Incredibly, all these plot lines ultimately converge in bizarre ways and all's well that ends well (except, perhaps, for Stacee and the llama). The cast performances were a bit uneven, which was most apparent during some of the melodies for which the show is famous. More than one singer had trouble focusing on their individual parts to let the melodies harmonize, opting instead to try to sing over the others. This had the unfortunate effect of interrupting the flow of the intersecting melodies. Lewis and Eyamie were two notable exceptions but, regrettably, had smaller roles. Richardson also gave a strong performance as Lonny and was able to effectively hold the story together as the narrator. The choreography (Andy Allen-McCarthy) was superbly executed. The ensemble numbers were tight and a pleasure to watch. Taeyun Moon (Ensemble) and Katie Shapiro (Waitress #1, Ensemble) gave particularly strong performances. Lighting was generally effective; however, spotlights were used as a focal point in a number of scenes resulting in the actors' faces being obscured, as the spotlights only highlighted them from the waist down (at least from my vantage point). The costumes (Susan Cole) and stage direction (Andréa Black) were both well done - in particular, with the reveal of Franz and Regina's 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' outfits. The best songs were the big, showy, numbers with lots of ensemble chorus, such as 'Cum On Feel the Noize / Just Like Livin' in Paradise/ Nothing But a Good Time', 'We Built This City/Too Much Time on My Hands', 'Here I Go Again', and 'Don't Stop Believing'. Despite some flaws, the show is lots of fun and jam-packed full of songs that most people know and can sing along to. The audience clearly loved it; clapping in time to the music and laughing out loud at many of Lonny's antics. Rock of Ages is recommended for anyone nostalgic for 80s rock music and a fun storyline. This show would also make a fantastic date night. Some strong language and sexually suggestive scenes may make it best to let your littlest rockers sit this one out. Rock of Ages is at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe until March 15, 2020. For more information or to buy tickets, go to https://www.orpheus-theatre.ca/rock-of-ages.

BWW Review: Jivesh Parasram's TAKE D MILK, NAH? Tackles Identity and Self-Awareness at Ottawa's National Arts Centre
January 18, 2020

Jivesh Parasram is a Hindu-Indo-Caribbean-Canadian, born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Parasram spends the first twenty minutes of the show explaining what an identity play is and why he finds it so distasteful and pretentious (and for some odd reason, very trendy in Canadian theatre). He then spends the rest of the show essentially performing an identity play. Ironic, isn't it? However, this is not a bad thing: Parasram's experiences are unique and, yet, upon reflection, they are not so unique. After all, many of us - as refugees, immigrants, and first-generation Canadians - have felt excluded from so-called 'privileged' or normal society, unaccepted and wanting to belong to the homogenous group. Even members of society that outwardly seem to fit the norm may be bullied into feeling like outcasts. We do not necessarily identify ourselves as being marginalized or recognize that our experience is shared with other people in similar situations. Nor do we realize that these shared experiences can actually be powerful and inspire us to create societal changes. Or, further still, that these changes may lead us dangerously down the path of treating others in the same way that we have been treated.

BWW Review: Broadway Across Canada's WAITRESS Will Leave You Feeling Warm and Fuzzy - and Craving Pie
January 2, 2020

Waitress, adapted from the 2007 film of the same name, tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a pie-maker/waitress working at Joe's Pie Diner somewhere in the southern United States. Jenna (Bailey McCall) is unhappily married to Earl (Clayton Howe), who is physically and emotionally abusive. When she finds out that she is pregnant, even though she doesn't want it, Jenna vows to keep the baby and find a way out of her loveless marriage. Her co-workers, the nerdy Dawn (Gabriella Marzetta) and the no-nonsense Becky (Kennedy Salters), have their own personal issues but provide much-needed comfort and support to Jenna.

BWW Review: Ottawa Musicals' ROBIN HOOD is Fun for the Whole Family
December 31, 2019

I was invited to attend Ottawa Musicals' opening night performance of Robin Hood at the Gladstone Theatre. Each holiday season, Ottawa Musicals puts on a pantomime performance specifically geared to families. This production of Robin Hood is full of song and dance numbers, as well as plenty of jokes (some for the kiddies; some for the adults). The story, written by Mark Allen - who also plays Little John - has a traditional Robin Hood plotline, but adds a couple of oddball characters for good measure.

BWW Review: MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY at the Ottawa Little Theatre is a Cozy Christmas Comedy
December 2, 2019

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley reunites Jane Austen fans with many of the characters from the author's most celebrated work, Pride and Prejudice. Mary (Ciana Van Dusen) and Jane (Chelsey Prince) join Elizabeth (Katie Torresan) and Mr. Darcy (Kurt Shantz) over the Christmas holiday at the Pemberley estate about two years after the events of the novel. A heavily pregnant Jane arrives at Pemberley with Mr. Bingley (Christian Giansante) and the still-single Mary accompanies them. Lydia (Emily White) arrives separately. About thirty seconds after she arrives, Mary discovers the library and is immediately engrossed in a book of maps. A new character, Arthur de Bourgh (Dave Coleman), has also been invited to spend the holidays at Pemberley. Arthur is Darcy's distant cousin and has recently inherited The Late Catherine de Bourgh's estate. When Arthur arrives, he and Mary feel an instant connection through their mutual interests, but misunderstandings and other circumstances soon arise to complicate matters.

BWW Review: COTTAGERS AND INDIANS at Ottawa's Great Canadian Theatre Company
November 30, 2019

As the antidote to our impending winter blues, Drew Hayden Taylor's Cottagers and Indians transports us to the serenity of Ontario's cottage country in summertime. We meet the story's two characters, Arthur Copper (Herbie Barnes), an Indigenous man of humble means, whose family has lived in the area forever, and Maureen Poole (Philippa Domville), a Caucasian upper-middle class woman who lives and works in the Toronto area, but has owned a cottage on Starling Lake for the last twenty or so years. It is evident in the first few minutes that there is no love lost between Arthur and Maureen. In fact, the air is decidedly icy, despite the warmth of the season.

BWW Review: Orpheus' Production of MATILDA THE MUSICAL at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
November 25, 2019

Matilda The Musical is based on the book written by Roald Dahl of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame. It tells the story of Matilda Wormwood (Shelby Shannon-Caines, in a role that is alternated nightly with Sophia Pierce), a young girl with extraordinary intelligence and imagination. Her talents are dismissed by her parents, a used car salesman (Graeme Parke) and a beauty-obsessed mother (Hilary Peck). Matilda vows to a?oechange her storya?? by ensuring that she is not beaten down by their constant ridicule. She finds refuge in books and making visits to the local library where she captivates the librarian, Mrs. Phelps (Shondra Mings), with elaborate, imaginative stories. This is frowned upon by Matilda's parents, who decide to reign their daughter in by sending her to Crunchem Hall, a school with the motto Bambinatum est Magitum, translated to a?oeChildren are Maggotsa??. Crunchem's headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (Jason Swan), despises children, rules with an iron fist, and terrorizes disobedient students by putting them in a?oeThe Chokeya??, a torture chamber for kids. However, at Crunchem, Matilda also makes some friends, notably Lavender (Angela Cachero) and Bruce (Cooper Dunn). She is taught by Miss Honey (Melinda Hudson), a timid professor who, upon recognizing Matilda's potential, decides to take her under her wing. Eventually, Matilda and the other students decide to band together and revolt against Miss Trunchbull's bullying.

BWW Review: Ottawa Little Theatre's GASLIGHT Thrills This Halloween Season
October 28, 2019

The Ottawa Little Theatre's production of Patrick Hamilton's psychological thriller, Gaslight, takes the audience back to nineteenth century England and into the home of Bella (Heather Archibald) and her husband, Jack Manningham (J.T. Morris). Bella seems to be slowly going out of her mind, just like her mother did, as evidenced by her hiding of random household objects for no apparent reason, as well as her lapses in memory. Jack taunts Bella cruelly, rewarding her for being good with the promise of a night out at the theatre, before almost instantly rescinding the gift because she has misplaced a grocery receipt. Jack further threatens to place Bella in a lunatic asylum if her behaviour doesn't improve. When Jack goes out, a detective named Rough (Geoff Gruson) comes to the house, seeking Bella. He can see that Bella is distraught and, because of his caring demeanour, Bella confides her worst fear to him - she is going out of her mind. She tells Rough that, aside from hiding insignificant household items, she also hears noises when she is alone in the house and has noticed other odd things, like the gas lights dimming downstairs, as if someone is on the top level of the house, even though that floor is unused and off-limits. Rough gives Bella the house's macabre history, providing her with another, more horrifying, explanation for these events. Together, they set out to find the truth.

BWW Review: GCTC's BANG BANG Blends Humour and Drama in this Gripping Production at Ottawa's Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre
October 27, 2019

Canadian playwright Kat Sandler's Bang Bang is part of the Great Canadian Theatre Company's 2019-2020 season. It is a show that addresses controversial topics, including gun violence, police brutality, mental health, and the court of public opinion.

BWW Review: RENT in Ottawa - Vive la Vie Bohème!
October 24, 2019

Broadway Across Canada has finally brought the much anticipated 20th Anniversary Tour of Jonathan Larson's acclaimed rock opera, Rent, to Ottawa. Rent is loosely based on the classic Puccini opera, La Bohème but, instead of 1890s Paris, Larson's scene is set in the gritty back alleys of New York's Alphabet City at Christmastime in the early nineties. We meet the two main protagonists, who are down on their luck. Mark (Cody Jenkins) is an aspiring filmmaker and Roger (Coleman Cummings) is a former musician. They live in a slum apartment, burning items in a steel trash can for warmth. Mark's girlfriend, Maureen (Kelsee Sweigard), left him for a woman named Joanne (Samantha Mbolekwa). Roger's girlfriend, April, committed suicide after she discovered that both she and Roger had contracted AIDS. To make matters even worse, Mark and Roger are about to be evicted by their former friend and roommate, Benny (Jason Taylor Smith), who recently purchased the building with the intention of converting it into a high-tech cyber arts studio.

BWW Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre's FALSETTOS at Ottawa's Gladstone Theatre
September 9, 2019

I was invited to attend Orpheus Musical Theatre's opening night performance of Falsettos at the Gladstone Theatre. Falsettos was originally performed on Broadway in 1992, where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won two. It was then revived to high acclaim in 2016, where it was nominated for five Tonys, including Best Revival of a Musical. The story is set in 1979, at a time when a family unit was deemed to consist of a man, a woman and one or more children. A wife was expected to keep the house clean, prepare meals and offer up sex whenever her husband wanted it. Anything outside of this traditional family unit would have been considered abnormal.



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